Do I Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I’ve been suffering from depression on and off since i was a freshman in college, and now I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t something else. I’ve always had a bad temper. I chocked it up to being an only child, spoiled brat kind of thing. It got better for a while when I was in college, but it’s worse than ever now that I am married. As I read more about BPD, the more I think it sounds a lot like me. However, I don’t think I’m so bad that I need to be hospitalized or anything; I don’t cut myself and have never attempted suicide. I would say that I’m a generally high functioning individual. But when it comes to my relationship with my husband, I often feel like I’m a child trapped in this adult body. He’s even told me that my friends “warned” him about my childish behavior before we got married.

I get really upset over little things that I wish I didn’t. For example, my husband chose a fastfood restaurant that he knows I dislike without asking me first while on a road trip. I threw a fit. He then called me a baby, which he knows I hate, and I proceeded to throw all the food he had just ordered at him. I’ve even hit him before. I can go for weeks with being fine, but then something will just set me off and I get so angry over dumb things. I throw things, break things. I feel out of control and I hate it. After I have a tantrum, I usually feel very depressed and worthless.

In college, I abused alcohol and drugs and was maybe a little promiscuous. Most of my relationships were OK, but there was one complete disaster that I feel has added to the etiology of my condition. I lost my virginity to this man when I was 15 (he was 23). When I was 20, we got back together and got engaged. But, he was very cold and pushed me away. I felt like I was a needy child and the more I needed, the less he needed me. I found out he was cheating on me later. Now, with my husband, I find myself being so paranoid about him being deceptive to me. I check his phone and his messages to see if girls are calling him (and I know deep down he’s completely faithful). I feel if I let down my vigilance, I’ll get hurt like I did in the last relationship.

My childhood was mostly good, but my mother could be abusive at times. I often felt the same way I did with her as I did in my relationship with my ex-fiance. I tried so hard to please her, but she never really needed me the way I needed her. After my parents divorced, she became less and less interested in me. She saw many different men and was sometimes intoxicated with them in front of me. I ended up moving in with my dad at the age of 9. It was her wish. I felt like she didn’t want me. Our relationship began to improve when I was in college, but she died when I was 22. After she died, I continued to abuse alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine to ease the pain. Fortunately, I no longer abuse these substances like I did. I do drink wine with dinner and at home; every once in a while I’ll go out and drink socially with friends, but that is only once or twice a month. If I don’t stay away from temptation, though, I have a tendency to go overboard.

I don’t really feel empty or that I have no identity, but there’s a lot of my personal history and my current functioning that screams bpd. I make excellent grades in school and seem to be handling life OK. But, when faced with conflict with my husband, I am like a time bomb — you never know when I’ll go off. my relationship with my husband is potentially in danger. Does this sound like BPD to you? If so, what kind of treatment should I seek?

A. It is really difficult to say whether or not you have borderline personality disorder. As you indicated, you do not have many of the symptoms. Based on what you have written, it seems unlikely that you have this disorder, but please remember that my opinion is based on very little information. If you want to know for sure, I would strongly suggest getting an in-person psychiatric evaluation.

You seem high functioning, intelligent and insightful. I am impressed by your ability to not only see how you behave incorrectly toward your husband but you also realize that you need help before you ruin this relationship. You are probably in danger, as you have indicated, of ruining this marriage. You have no right to hit your husband nor does he have any right to hit you. You have no right to throw food at your husband and he has no right to do this to you. Hitting him is abusing him and for this relationship to last, your abuse towards him has to stop.

It seems that you may have never learned how to behave properly toward a mate (and maybe toward others in general). Perhaps you never had a proper role model to teach you how to behave in relationships. Many of us don’t. There are no instructions or manuals on how to behave in relationships and if you do not have this modeled for you, it can be difficult to learn on your own.

Right now would be the right time for you to seek help from a therapist who specializes in marriage counseling and relationships. You can learn to change your behavior. He or she can tell you what you are doing wrong and how to correct your behavior and act appropriately. You can learn how it is you are supposed to behave in relationships. If you are invested in changing your behavior, and with the help of a good therapist, there is a real good chance you can change your behavior and begin to repair and heal your marriage. Do this soon before your husband grows tired of your abuse and seeks a way out. Good luck and take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Dec 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Do I Have Borderline Personality Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/12/30/do-i-have-borderline-personality-disorder-2/